Now, however, all sense of control is gone. New cases of Covid-19 have tripled since early October to reach 850 a day in Grand Forks, and about half of those contacted by the health department say they do not know how they got infected.
“People are realizing that you can get it anywhere,” said Kailee Leingang, a 21-year-old nursing student who also works as a state contact tracer in Grand Forks. Even Ms. Leingang fell ill, as well as several of her colleagues. She traces her case to her parents, who have started showing symptoms. Beyond that, the track becomes cold.
“They have no idea,” she says of where her parents came into contact with the virus.
Ms. Leingang, isolating herself at home with her cat, feels sicker by the day. The dishes have piled up in the sink – it’s too weak to stand long enough to wash them. But she is still working, calling at least 50 people a day to let them know their tests have come back positive, though her job is no longer to track who else they may have infected. “With the high number of cases right now,” she said, “our team can’t afford to have someone not working.
During the earlier, quieter periods of the pandemic, the virus has spread with some degree of certainty. In all cities except the hardest hit cities, people could ask a common question: “Where did you get it?” – and often find tangible answers.
A popular college bar in East Lansing, Michigan, Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub, became a hot spot this summer after dozens of people crowded into the bar, drinking, dancing and gathering. At least 192 people – 146 people at the bar and 46 people with ties to those at the bar – have been infected. Governor Gretchen Whitmer subsequently closed indoor dining at bars in parts of the state.
In Ingham County, which includes much of East Lansing, it’s much more difficult to tell where the virus is currently spreading. Of the 4,700 cases reported in the county during the pandemic, more than 2,700 have occurred since the start of September.
Much of the new spread can be traced back to students at Michigan State University, where students live off campus and take classes online. But every day, employers and residents are calling the health department to report random cases that can’t be easily explained.